The female perspective on entrepreneurship in South Africa

Female entrepreneurial activity has been proven to be a major catalyst in triggering economic growth in developing countries, such as South Africa. The increased number and quality of female finalists in the 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition is thus an encouraging sign.

In light of August being Women’s Month, we chatted to seven female finalists from this year’s competition about their thoughts on entrepreneurship:

Tabisa Nomnganga, owner of Bravo Promotions, on her advice to fellow female entrepreneurs operating in South Africa:

“Female entrepreneurs need to believe in the beauty of their dreams. As female entrepreneurs we have an extra challenge of having to prove that gender has nothing to do with running a successful business. It’s all about hard work and dedication.”

Suretha Barnard, owner of the Junior academy, on whether she faces any unique challenges being a female entrepreneur:

“I do not really face any unique challenges. I get the same treatment and respect from our parents as the male principals do from neighbouring primary schools. In fact, I feel that I am very fortunate to be a female in my position as principal of the nursery school as I feel that “motherly instincts” play a huge role in the job. I think parents feel more comfortable discussing their child’s problems with a woman, who can relate to their situation and they certainly know that we offer a home away from home experience.”

Kamille Padayachee, owner of Thoughtfire Conferences & PR, on what being a female entrepreneur means to her:

“I’m proud to be a strong, independent woman who can survive and keep her head above water. I think it takes a special type of person to be an entrepreneur and as a woman I enjoy the fact that I can contribute in a small way by perhaps inspiring other young women, my daughters (when I have children one day) or even my employees.

Carol Weaving, business owner of Thebe Exhibitions & Projects Group, on her advice to fellow female entrepreneurs in South Africa:

“My daily mantra is “Carpe Diem” – seize the day! You must never give up, you have to think out of the box, never be scared to take risks (calculated of course) and work hard with your team to see it happen. Enjoy every minute.”

Anthea Ambursley, owner of AnanziBiz, on whether she faces any particular challenges being a female entrepreneur:

“Yes, but this has not stopped me from pursuing my dreams. Male dominance in the South African corporate world is still a challenge for business women. However, I believe that if you love what you are doing and you know what you want to achieve, you will be able to overcome such challenges. In the early days when I was looking for finance, I would make a pitch to male executives and it would be clear from their body language that they did not think that I could make it. Such experiences have provided me with an extra motivation to succeed.”

Madele’ Ferreira, owner of Mooihoek Boerdery, on which South African female entrepreneur inspires her most:

“Fellow female entrepreneur Janice Giddy, owner of food safety and business support company Entecom, is a huge inspiration because of her dedication and passion. Seeing all the hard work and effort pay off for her has been very fulfilling and inspiring. Because we started our businesses at roughly the same time, seeing her business grow at such a rapid rate gives me faith as to what my business can develop into.”

Michélle Booysen, owner of Pétanque Consultancy, on what being a female entrepreneur means to her:

“It is an honour. Being an entrepreneur makes one part of 25% of the population. Being a female entrepreneur makes one part of probably, all things being equal, 12% of the population. This group characterises vision, drive, the will to succeed, innovation, ingenuity and a deep understanding of the responsibility to maintain business as a key driver of economic growth, people empowerment and community support. I am part of a minority industry with incredibly accomplished women as my role models, peers and support. I am proudly an entrepreneur and therefore it is an honour for me to be an entrepreneur, locally and internationally.”



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